What is the Dark Web?

What is the Dark Web?

The “Dark Web” has been around for 20+ years. It started in the year 2000 with the release of Freenet. Since its beginning, the dark web has transformed, with applications that are both good and bad for users.

For example, whistleblowers use the platform for good, but there have also been illegal marketplaces on the platform, such as the nefarious Silk Road.

Freenet was an introduction to sharing files and browsing free sites, and then Tor came along. Tor allows users to browse the Internet with a high level of anonymity, yet it also opened the door to the dark web. The creators of Tor aimed to help users avoid government censorship and allow for a platform free from oppression.

What is the Dark Web?

The Internet has two main entry points: the public and Dark Web. When you think of the public-facing Internet, it is where you go to search for pizza, lawyers, groceries, cybersecurity in Miami and anything else.

The dark web isn’t indexed, and you won’t find the portals of the dark web on:

  • Google
  • Bing
  • DuckDuckGo
  • Any search engine

In fact, if you ever explore the dark web, it’s imperative that you avoid downloading files and giving out personal information. It’s also important to be very cautious when visiting websites within the system.

Risks of the Dark Web

For a cybersecurity expert, the dark web is an area of the Internet where people go to sell user data or even entire databases that have been held for ransom in ransomware attacks. A lot of good and bad activities happen on the dark web, but the threats and information that security experts look for include:

  • Stolen data or databases from individuals and/or organizations
  • New information about threats that are transpiring
  • Cybercriminals that need to be monitored and/or tracked

On the dark web, there are also service providers who offer a “black market” of sorts that you won’t find on Google or other search engines. This black market is filled with highly technical hackers who offer everything from:

  • Selling ransomware as a service to others, allowing them to leverage ransomware for their own gain
  • Access to numerous servers
  • Infrastructure rentals, such as the infrastructure necessary for things like running a botnet or performing an extensive DDoS attack
  • The sale of personal information, such as Social Security numbers, bank accounts, credit cards and other data that is stolen from people

Often, password breaches that occur at major corporations will end up on the dark web, where hackers will pay for some or all of the information. 

The dark web has many good and bad aspects to it, but for the average Internet user, they’ll often stumble into it without the proper safeguards in place. Cybersecurity experts who understand the risk of the dark web can use it to gather information on security risks, cyberattacks and ways to try and combat evolving security vulnerabilities.

Researching the dark web is a way for cybersecurity professionals to counter attacks before they’re launched.